Rep. Laurel Lee (File)

Florida Rep. Laurel Lee Says She’s “Committed To Protecting Consumer Choice” After Passage Of Refrigerator, SUDS Act

Rep. Laurel Lee (File)
Rep. Laurel Lee (File)

The US House of Representatives has found itself embroiled in a heated debate over energy efficiency standards for household appliances, with a group of Democrats joining their Republican counterparts in passing bills aimed at blocking the Biden administration’s proposed regulations. 

The two key pieces of legislation at the center of this debate are the Refrigerator Freedom Act and the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act. Introduced by Republican representatives, these bills seek to prevent the Department of Energy (DOE) from finalizing or enforcing efficiency standards on dishwashers and refrigerators that are deemed “not cost-effective or technologically feasible.”

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The Refrigerator Freedom Act, spearheaded by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, would prohibit the DOE from implementing regulations that the agency itself has found could increase upfront costs for consumers by as much as 25%. The bill’s proponents argue that the payback period for these increased costs could take up to 10 years, which they deem unacceptable for appliances with a typical lifespan of 14-15 years.

The Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act, introduced by Rep. Nick Langworthy of New York, takes a similar stance on the proposed dishwasher efficiency standards. The bill’s supporters contend that the DOE’s own analysis suggests the new rules could drive up the initial price of dishwashers by as much as 28%, with a payback period of 12 years – longer than the average lifespan of 7-12 years for these appliances.

The Refrigerator Freedom Act and the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act both passed the House along party lines, with a handful of Democrats joining their Republican counterparts. This bipartisan support underscores the widespread concern over the potential impact of the proposed efficiency standards on American households.

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The White House, however, has voiced its opposition to the bills, albeit stopping short of a veto threat. In a statement of administration policy, the Biden administration argued that the measures would “add vague, red-herring provisions” that could create uncertainty around the application of future updates to efficiency standards.

Florida Rep. Laurel Lee issued a statement to the Tampa Free Press following Tuesday’s passage of both bills, saying, “The American people cannot afford President Biden’s extreme and inflationary energy policies. This administration has repeatedly advanced burdensome rules, regulations, and mandates that have made people’s lives more difficult and caused prices to skyrocket,” said Rep. Laurel Lee.

“Today, House Republicans passed two crucial bills to prevent the Biden administration from imposing excessively costly and impractical regulations on household appliances. Floridians should be able to decide what household appliances they have in their homes, not Washington bureaucrats. I am proud to support these bills and I am committed to protecting consumer choice, reining in executive overreach, and promoting economic growth,” Lee said.

The House’s actions are part of a wider legislative strategy to counter the Biden administration’s efforts to implement more stringent energy regulations, particularly in the realm of household appliances.

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The Department of Energy has projected that the proposed dishwasher and refrigerator standards and other energy efficiency measures could save consumers nearly $40 billion over the next three decades.

However, Republicans have criticized these projections, arguing that the upfront cost increases would outweigh the long-term savings.

They contend that the administration’s “relentless assault” on consumer choice and affordability is making life harder for the American people.

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